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Essentia, St. Luke's Nurses Express Concern Over Contract Negotiations

Ryan Juntti
Updated: July 09, 2019 07:34 AM

On Monday night, an issue not on the agenda came front and center at the Duluth City Council meeting - the ongoing contract negotiation for nurses at Essentia and St. Luke's.

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The nurses want what they call a fair contract, and they are calling on the council to talk to talk to the hospitals to get it.

Nurses from both hospitals say they have been negotiating for several weeks, but feel that their concerns regarding staffing aren't being addressed.

Minnesota Nurses Association nurses from both Essentia and St. Luke's filled the council chambers with some of them expressing their concerns publicly. 

Some of the concerns shared were that the nurses are not able to effectively do their jobs if they are short-staffed. They say as it is right now there aren't enough nurses to care for patients. Therefore, they want the hospitals to hire and schedule more nurses as they say this will make things easier for everyone.

"We need, deserve and demand to work safely, and that means more nurses bottom line," said Susie Moss, an Intensive Care Unit Nurse at St. Luke's Hospital.

"We are increasingly asked to do more with less like caring for more patients at a time than we can safely handle," said Chris Rubesch, Essentia-St. Mary's Registered Nurse.

"The hospitals need to do more to improve staffing levels, which will not only strengthen patient care, it will make our hospitals safer," said Rose Roach, Minnesota Nurses Association Executive Director.

"We are privileged to have some of the best nurses in the country, and we are committed to reaching a mutually agreeable settlement that continues to support excellence in patient care and a safe work environment. Essentia Health and the MNA have a long history of reaching mutually acceptable agreements, dating back more than 50 years, and we are working through the regular process in a deliberate way to do so again. We look forward to continued progress with negotiations, and will continue focusing our efforts at the bargaining table because that’s where solutions are found," Essentia said in a statement about the current contract negotiations with the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Also at Monday's meeting, the city council:

  • Unanimously approved three ordinances related to permits for Essentia's Vision Northland project.
  • Approved the list of projects the one-half of one percent sales tax with be used for.
  • Unanimously approved a previously tabled resolution that would shrink the size of Lake Superior Plaza by 30-40 feet.
  • Approved a resolution allowing up to $73,384 for design and construction administration for the Lake Superior Zoo's black bear exhibit.  

Credits

Ryan Juntti

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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